Thursday, December 27, 2012

At the Mountains of Madness--Antarctic Drilling High Point

A number of international teams have been drilling in the Antarctic recently, among them British, US and Russian teams.  While the British team is evidently done for the year the US and Russians are pressing ahead with their efforts to drill into and sample the several mile deep under the ice lakes.

These are bodies of freshwater that have been shut off from light and the rest of the world for hundreds of thousands or millions of years.  What microbial and other life exists under the ice is a wonder.

It also brings back all sorts of great sci-fi novels of the early 20th century and the fears they contained around the unknown present at that time in Antarctica.  The article linked below goes into specifics of the drilling as well as some of the aforementioned novels.  It also details some fears of the Antarctic that I had not thought of.  I had wondered what if there is a microbe under the ice that the human body is not prepared for and which could cause a catastrophe but I had not thought of the hypothesis that the ice might actually be capping huge amounts of methane gas generated by all the sub-ice microbes that have been feeding, living and dying for millions of years and what the release of that gas could do.

It'll be interesting, and likely a lot less exciting, to see what the explorers find and even more fun to speculate what might be trapped under the ice--out there.

Wired Article--Antarctic Drilling...

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